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Exploring issues and reframing roles on climate change during this pandemic

  • April 08, 2020 4:28 PM
    Message # 8888084
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am fortunate enough to teach a class on climate change and innovation during this pandemic.  And my students are always raising new questions and ideas that call for further exploration and reflection on how to reframe roles as we strive to act on climate change:

    • ·      What’s the link between climate change, the coronavirus, and our lungs?
    • ·      Are we acting quickly enough to protect coral? 
    • ·       How can we get funding to support the decarbonization of transportation?
    • ·      How art and fantasy can advance environmental measures...
    • ·      Why social innovation may be the best tool youth have to express their frustration with governmental inaction on climate change.

    To answer, some of these questions, I didn’t have to do much digging.  Indeed, The NY Times features a weekly climate change newsletter that raised some of the issues that my students had been wondering about…email me if you want the link!

    Question:  What’s the link between climate change, the coronavirus, and our lungs? 

    Response in NY Times Climate Forward newsletter:  4/8/20:  Chronic lung diseases, coming from living nearby factories, can make people more susceptible to the Coronavirus.  So can race and underlying health conditions.

    Question:  Are we acting quickly enough to protect coral? 

    Response in NY Times Climate Forward newsletter:  No—significant bleaching was reported this past month:  according to Professor Hughes at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies “it’s the first time we’ve seen severely bleached reefs along the whole lengths of the reef, in particular, the coastal reefs."  

    Chicago Tribune (12/11/20):  Shedd Researcher Ross Cunning is trying to locate resilient coral, but bleaching continues at an alarming rate. 

    For those of us who love to swim, snorkel, and see the beauty of the oceans, take a look at the Netflix film, Chasing Coral.  Parts are exquisitely beautiful, and the featured environmentalists are so committed.  Don’t have Netflix?  Here’s a link to a YouTube summary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6fHA9R2cKI

    Question and idea:  Why we need money NOW to fund efforts to de-carbonize transportation.

    Response:  This past weekend, while dialing into a 350.org Chicago meeting, I was introduced (not present at the meeting, just referenced) to an environmentalist, innovator, and MacArthur recipient, Dr. Saul Griffith.  Dr. Griffith essentially made one of the same arguments my student had been making for the last couple of weeks:  we need investments (pony up now) to develop electric airplanes and make cheaper versions of electric cars.

    Dr. Griffith reported that history was on our side when it came to funding efforts to decarbonize transportation:

    "The car loan was invented in the 1920s.

    The modern home loan was invented in the 1940s.

    The invention we need  for 2020 is the climate loan." Saulgriffith.com/blog/solving-climate change with a loan


    • Idea:  How art and fantasy can advance environmental measures.

    Response: One of our Kids Climate Summit experts, Alisa Singer, is a renowned artist in the field of climate change.  Her artwork was featured on the cover of the 2018 IPCC Brochure.  http://www.environmentalgraphiti.org/aboutus.  Stern visited her exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Museum (photo by Stern, but greater creativity on website)! 

    Idea:  why social innovation may be the best tool youth have to express their frustration with governmental inaction on climate change.

    Response:  On a macro level, most kids don't have the resources to galvanize action on the climate crisis.  There is strength in numbers and giving youth a platform for expression continues to be an aim of our Kids Climate Summit.  On a micro level, our climate change and innovation class focused on designing or redesigning inventions aimed at reducing warming.  It’s kind of hard to build inventions while in quarantine, but our interest in social innovation has morphed into communal tree planting.  Stay tuned! 

    Speaking of stay tuned, catch Trevor Noah’s light interview with all time social innovator, Greta Thunberg on the Daily Show (9/11/19).  Enlightening and funny:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhQVustYV24

     Be well, and continue to act on the climate crisis!


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